Is philosophy compatible with science?

One of the recurrent questions of philosophy is its relation with science.

  • Is philosophy a science?
  • Is science a philosophy?
  • How can science and philosophy harmonize? What is the link between them? Are they compatible?

I. Philosophy supplants scienceDuring

antiquity, philosophy is the supreme science “of first principles and first causes”. All the other sciences derive from philosophy. Philosophy and science were born at the same time, among the Greeks.

For Plato, sciences lead to philosophy, and philosophy is the foundation of these sciences. On the pediment of the Academy, his school, was inscribed : ” Let no one enter here unless he is a geometer ”

II. Science emancipates itself from philosophyIn the

17th century, the development of positive sciences (based only on real facts, experience) and the experimental method, which defines a strict protocol to build science from experiments, gives science an independence from philosophy.

Science no longer aims at disinterested knowledge, but has a utilitarian objective for man. It thus approaches technique, becoming techno-science: it is a question of making man “like master and possessor of nature”, as René Descartes explained it.

Explanations of the Discourse on Method – Descartes

Philosophy becomes superfluous for the scientist (scientist make science an absolute): swallowed up by scientific progress, it is no longer important. It is considered as a “part of human knowledge which has not yet succeeded in taking on the characteristics and value of science”. Auguste Comte, thus sees in metaphysics a ” chronic disease naturally inherent to our mental evolution and individual or collective, between childhood and manhood”, where childhood is the theological spirit and manhood is the positive spirit.

III. Philosophy and science in harmonyAccording to

Heidegger, philosophy remains indispensable and should not want to be assimilated to a science. He writes in Letter on humanism “The “philosophy” is in the constant necessity to justify its existence in front of the “sciences”. It thinks it can do so more surely by raising itself to the rank of a science. But this effort is the abandonment of the essence of the thought. The philosophy is pursued by the fear to lose in consideration and in validity, if it is not science. One sees there like a lack which is assimilated to a non-scientificity “.

In the same way Friedrich Nietzsche in the Gai savoir dissipates the scientistic illusion: “It is on a metaphysical faith that rests our faith in science; seekers of the knowledge, impious, enemies of the metaphysics, we borrow ourselves still our fire to the blaze that was lit by a thousand-year-old belief, this Christian faith, that was also the one of Plato, for whom the true is identified to God and all divine truth

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